Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date – 07 Apr 2020

The current generation G20 BMW 3-Series seems to embody it all. From stylish design to a premium build and performance to match in what remains easily the most dynamic luxury sedan within its segment. The one thing many argued it was missing, however, was BMW’s magical 6-cylinder motor, well, thankfully that is no longer the case. The question now which has to be asked, is this the new BMW M3 on a budget?

On Paper Facts

  • Price: R1 002 211 (R1 183 760 as tested)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbopetrol straight-6
  • Power/Torque: 285 kW/500 Nm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Fuel consumption: 7.7 L/100 km (claimed)
  • ​​​Load capacity: 480 litres

The Drive

I attended the SA media launch about a year ago, and first drove the new G20 3-Series. What immediately stuck out from its launch, is just how much the current 3-series has grown, in terms of sizing, featuring and pricing as well.

Now packing a lot of features which were previously reserved for the likes of the larger models such as the 5-Series and 7-Series such as semi-autonomous driving modes, radar-guided cruise control, a gesture-based media system with BMW Connected Drive Services 7.0, voice assistance and even a concierge on demand, there is nothing missing from this new model.

BMW’s all-wheel-drive system, or xDrive as its known, now adds a further sense of control over at the limits. While it may inhibit some of the tail-happy fun reminiscent from the old days, it does make for faster times and a more sure-footed approach which is welcomed in a vehicle which pushes out 285 kW and 500 Nm of torque propelling it from 0 – 100 km/h in around 4.5 seconds.

M3 on a shoestring?

I’m afraid not! The M340i offers BMW’s glorious B58 3.0-litre 6-cylinder motor. From its fantastic noise making-abilities to impeccable performance, it’s hard not to fall in love with the heart of this beast. From blackened 19-inch alloy wheels, a diamond-inspired front grille and darkened mirror housings as well as large twin tailpipes, it certainly looks the part.

You can tell, however, that the Bavarian automaker has left some extra room for an upcoming M3, which will almost certainly be set to create some new benchmarks within this space. 

In Short

On a winding mountain pass or on a racetrack you will definitely be rewarded by the M340i. From its spot-on weight distribution to its multi-award-winning engine, its sleek design and top-notch interior feature-packed trim, it really is difficult to fault. The only one thorn which it may have in its side comes from its own bloodline.

Priced from R1 002 211, it is in-line with its direct competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 and Audi S5 for instance, but does it justify about 30% more cost than that of the 330i which I drove some months back? For my money that seemed to offer enough to justify itself, this being said, if you are a driver who will push to the limits, the M340i will satisfy you no end!

Be sure to also check out our full review of the BMW 330i (G20) at:

BMW 330i (2019) Sportline Quick Review – The Best One Yet?

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